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Poetry

Elephant

By Yu Jian
Translated from Chinese by Xin Xu
Yu Jian composes an elegy to a majestic elephant as it marches across Asia.

Rising above the land, it precedes the grayness of Asia.  
A robed king, boundless and lost, stands at the edge of Xishuangbanna and Laos. 
It’s the jungle’s shield. The Creator bestows its symbolism,
endowing it with a face of grief, hiding diamonds behind its blue eyelids;
imitating crescent moons to shape its tusks, keeping palm-leaf manuscripts secret in its wrinkles.
Huge webbed-toes, heavy as lead stamp blocks, inspect the territory of its ancestors.
Its long trunk like irrefutable evidence is dawdling left and right.
Traversing the jungle, it rouses a pride of lions lurking deep by the river.
O, it is a defeated god, approaching the dusk of time.
The eternal fog cracks, its tonnage disintegrates, and recedes.
It lowers its big ears, eroding step by step in darkness,
as it turns into countless grains of sand along the Ganges. 

 

“Daxiang (大象)” © Yu Jian. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2020 by Xin Xu. All rights reserved.

English

Rising above the land, it precedes the grayness of Asia.  
A robed king, boundless and lost, stands at the edge of Xishuangbanna and Laos. 
It’s the jungle’s shield. The Creator bestows its symbolism,
endowing it with a face of grief, hiding diamonds behind its blue eyelids;
imitating crescent moons to shape its tusks, keeping palm-leaf manuscripts secret in its wrinkles.
Huge webbed-toes, heavy as lead stamp blocks, inspect the territory of its ancestors.
Its long trunk like irrefutable evidence is dawdling left and right.
Traversing the jungle, it rouses a pride of lions lurking deep by the river.
O, it is a defeated god, approaching the dusk of time.
The eternal fog cracks, its tonnage disintegrates, and recedes.
It lowers its big ears, eroding step by step in darkness,
as it turns into countless grains of sand along the Ganges. 

 

“Daxiang (大象)” © Yu Jian. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2020 by Xin Xu. All rights reserved.

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